By Dave Opfer
A few years ago my sister introduced me to a fun outdoor activity called geocaching and my kids and I quickly became hooked. You may be asking, “What exactly is geocaching?” Well, Wikipedia defines geocaching as an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, anywhere in the world. I always describe it as a high tech treasure hunt that the entire family can enjoy!
In a nutshell, a participant will use their GPS-enabled device to “hunt” some type of container that another person hid in your location. These containers can be large or small, with varying degrees of difficulty to find. Some of these caches will have “swag” inside them that you can trade for other items you have in your possession, or there may just be a log that you can sign. My kids really like the caches that have some type of swag (super balls, army men, beads, etc.) that they can swap out with some other item that they have with them.
There are also caches that have “trackables” in them that can be very interesting to pick up. These can be coins or other small items that have a geocaching code on them that allows the person that places the trackable to follow its movement around the globe. Once a person has located the cache they will take that item with them and log that it has been picked up and then when they place it in another cache they can update the location of that item. It can be very interesting to follow their movements and see how many miles they can log on their journey. Some of these items can log thousands of miles of travel!
There are many different ways for a person to get started with Geocaching, but the first thing to do is create an account on geocaching.com and search for caches in your area. Once you find some caches that you are interested in finding you can load the coordinates of the cache onto your handheld GPS device or smart phone and let the fun begin. Regardless of where you are, you can rest assured that there is always a cache nearby. Currently there are over 2.5 million caches around the world and over 9 million geocachers and that number grows every day!
As summer quickly approaches, geocaching can provide hours of entertainment and family time outdoors. Whether you stay near your house or load the family up in the car and travel the area, geocaching promises hours of fun outdoor activity for you and your family. If you are new to the sport a great resource to answer all of your questions is Geocaching 101.
Have you been on a geocaching adventure? Tell us all about it in the Comments below!